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Liftoff is scheduled for 3:49p.m. Saturday afternoon, for Space Shuttle Discovery. The last thing I want to hear on the radio or see on TV, is another space shuttle explosion. I know that they are running out of time to complete the Space Station, but human lives are always more important than science, or at least they should be. In the past, lives have been sacrificed for the furtherance of science, but I ponder that we are beyond that type of discovery.

Space exploration has brought us a ton of grand inventions such as, dialysis machines, CAT scanners, cardiovascular conditioner, freeze dried food, water purification, and cordless power tools just to name a few. Those inventions derived from the Apollo missions. The benefits that we reap everyday from space exploration are incomprehensible. What's your say?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA said on Thursday it is ready to lift its ban on space shuttle flights, convinced that only another launch will vanquish lingering safety concerns with the ship's fuel tank that were exposed by the 2003 Columbia disaster.

"It's been a long year with a lot of hard work," shuttle deputy program manager John Shannon said at a news briefing.

Mission managers cleared shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven for launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday. Liftoff is scheduled for 3:49 p.m. EDT (1949 GMT).

NASA's top engineer and safety officials had argued to delay the launch until additional repairs could be made to the shuttle's fuel tank, which triggered the loss of Columbia and the deaths of seven astronauts.

Michael Griffin, the U.S. space agency chief who made the final call to proceed with launch, has acknowledged that any major technical problem likely would end the shuttle program permanently.

But with the fleet set to retire in four years, time is running out to finish building the International Space Station. Griffin decided that even if the worst-case scenario occurred and Discovery sustained Columbia-like damage from a debris impact during launch, the shuttle crew could live aboard the station while they awaited rescue.

Columbia was damaged when a piece of foam insulation fell off its fuel tank and hit the shuttle's wing during launch. It broke apart 16 days later as it flew through the atmosphere for landing.



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